Teachers generally break up the year not in terms of January to December, or in terms of the seasons, but rather in terms of the milestones that are half-term breaks. October saw the culmination of one half-term – and the change from September – with the end of seven weeks of teaching and the chance to unwind with a one week break. Both the teaching weeks and the half-term break week provided me with lots of blogging ideas and opportunities, ranging from the use of maps and cave paintings to dictatorships and imperialism.
Two of my most enjoyable posts came in the form of reflections and discussion in the classroom. The post ‘Maps, Maps, Maps!!!’ provided examples from a first year A-level class which was given a task: to draw a map of Europe without the use of any help. The results were humorous and revealing, ranging from “terrible” to “not too bad”. I find the task of help in scaffolding the information that will be covered in the weeks and months ahead, particularly in the context of this A-level module ‘Germany 1918-1945’ where we traipse all over Europe during the inter-war period and the Second World War.
Similarly, I was able to reflect on the use of cave paintings with an Access to HE group. This all originated from a last-minute piece of guided study thrown at the students; something along the lines of, “Um, find a cave painting… and… um, analyse it… tell me what meaning you can deduce from it… Okay!?” But the end product was really engaging: the students picked interesting cave paintings and developed their own interpretations, which created productive discussion in the context of the module ‘What is History’. It is definitely an activity that I will return to in future years and cohorts.
During October I visited a few National Trust and English Heritage sites, such as Restormel Castle and Saltram House. I hope to post the images from these visits in the near future, but for now only such entry has been blogged: the trip to Hembury Hill Fort. I particularly enjoyed walking on the same piece of land that was once fortified back in the iron age; although my daughter probably preferred going into a walled and roofed castle to dress up as a princess.
On looking through the other posts of October it is hard to discern a clear narrative, but this blog has generally been about eclectic history. So, in this vein, there were two further posts on the War World Cup, which I continue to plough without being entirely convinced of its value. These included the third entry on the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 and the Spanish-American War of 1898. Perhaps this is the time to upload an actual table of the “winners” and “losers”.
In a more academic manner came the post relating to a previous degree essay about the widespread appeal of imperialism in Britain prior to the First World War (which relates to a module taught on the History with English foundation degree), as well as one on the spread of dictatorships in the twentieth century (which relates to a Access to HE module). Whilst in the opposite direction came another one of my critically received plays based on the Duke of Northumberland from the mid-Tudor period. And if that wasn’t all enough, I also posted the speeches and appeals of Henry Tudor and Richard III before the outbreak of the Battle of Bosworth.